Transfer of genes with potential therapeutic utility to the pancreatic islets of Langerhans may enhance graft survival after islet transplantation. The aim of this study was to determine the optimal conditions for adenoviral-mediated gene transfer to the islets of Langerhans in the absence of vector-induced toxicity. Neonatal rat islets were transduced in groups of 25 with an adenoviral vector encoding beta-galactosidase (AdbetaGal) at doses of MOI 0, 10, 100 and 1000 pfu per islet cell. All experiments were performed in triplicate. Efficiency of gene transfer was determined by gross inspection and estimation of the percentage of beta-galactosidase positive cells after islet dispersion at 1, 4, 7 and 10 days post-transduction. Islet toxicity was assessed by measuring accumulated insulin levels at each time-point and by assessing static incubation insulin release at 3 and 10 days. Efficient dose-dependent gene transfer to the islets was documented at 1, 4, 7 and 10 days post-transduction. Transgene expression was relatively stable for the duration of the experiment. Insulin accumulation did not differ between transduced and non-transduced islets at each timepoint. Likewise, the insulin secretory response to glucose, obtained by dividing the insulin response to high glucose incubation by the insulin response to low glucose incubation was similar in transduced and non-transduced islets at 3 and 10 days at all doses studied. In summary, adenoviral-mediated transduction of islets results in dose dependent efficient gene transfer with relatively stable transgene expression in the absence of toxicity. This technology may be useful in the study of islet biology and also in the future in gene therapy approaches to the treatment of diabetes mellitus.